remote surveillance – DIY is hugely frustrating

I had a break in and theft a couple years ago and so installed a home security system with a very powerful siren, camera system and dawn to dusk lights.  Being a DIYer I installed them myself.  The programming of the Ademco Vista 20p was challenging.  They work fine but I did not have remote access, which means if the alarm was triggered when I was away, then I depended on my neighbors to call me.  Which they did when the alarm went off last week for the first time in 2 years.  It was a false alarm caused by a loose wire in a new sensor installed a couple days earlier.

Which got me thinking.  Wouldn’t it be nice if I was electronically notified when the alarm was triggered and if I could then use my cameras to verify if there was an intruder.  If there was I could call the police and then head out to the property.  If not, I could reset the alarm and save the trip.

I started with the video cameras which feed into a dvr (digital video recorder).  I have dsl internet service at the property and it is easy enough to connect the dvr to the router with a cable.  But how do I enable the system so I can view the cameras remotely?  The router blocks intrusions from the internet and you have to open certain ports to internet traffic (called port forwarding).  You could also use UPnP (universal plug and play) but I decided against this route.  Since I didn’t really know what I was doing it took ages to set up the addresses and ports, BUT it still didn’t work.  You can tell success by going to a site aptly called “” and the site reports back whether it can see you i.e the port is open, or not.  I truly believed I had done everything correctly but I couldn’t be seen.  So I got help from my son who said that the dsl modem through which my router was connected to the internet was actually a 2nd router with a firewall and to get around this I had to establish a “DMZ” (demilitarized zone, reminds me of the Berlin days).  Once I did this canyouseeme promptly reported success.  I installed a neat app called KMEye on my iphone and I am now able to use the video cameras remotely (and also locally) on my desktop/laptop and iPhone.

Next was to have the Ademco security system notify me when the alarm was triggered.  As with the security cameras I went down several cul de sacs before success.  The Ademco can send pager alerts and several postings said this alert could be enabled to call your ‘phone.  I tried programing this and failed and gave up when a poster who provided a very detailed write up of his system=authoritative, said it wouldn’t work.  But I found a neat little module from EyezOn called EnvisaLink3, which was expensive >$90 but installed easily on my system.  You register with  EyezOn and they act as the intermediary between you and your system.  Alerts are emailed or text messaged to you and other selected contacts, and you use the smart phone app to see what circuit or condition triggered the alert and you can arm or disarm very easily using the app.  There is no additional charge for this service, though to register you have to exculpate and indemnify the provider against any loss from their system not properly working.

So I have now, after a week of mounting frustration, successfully established remote surveillance.  Incidentally, my security sensors are all wired to the control panel.  I read this week that wireless security systems can be hacked and neutralized.  Wired systems take a lot of work to install but since they don’t use batteries require less maintenance.


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